Ancient Britain


Excalibur: the Sword in the Stone?

Two swords are presented in the Arthurian Legends: Excalibur (also called Caliburn) and the Sword in the Stone. Sometimes people think it's one and the same, but more and more it is believed that they are not.

The Sword in the Stone
The story of the Sword in the Stone is a story about Arthur's claim to the throne of Britain. According to legend, the Sword was Uther's sword, the sword of the High King of Britain. After Uther's death there is no known heir and the barons are fighting among each other who is to be the next High King of Britain.
Merlin, who was Uther counselor, has the sollution: he takes Uther's sword and with his magic, he runs it into a rock. The onw man who is able to draw the sword from the stone again will be the rightfull heir. Many have tried: Lot, Uriens, even Leodegrance and many more, but no one was able to draw the sword.
Until one day Sir Ector and his sons Kay and Arthur (not knowing he is not Ector's real son but fostered by him) come to the place where the sword is captured in the rock, they come for a tournament. Arthur, being squirl to Ector and Kay, has to get Kay a new sword for his one is broken. He passes the rock and draws the sword, which he brings to Ector and Kay. Next, confusion is great, for how could this boy draw the sword from the stone.
Then Merlin makes his entrance again and declares that Arthur is Uther's son. To proof that he places the sword back in the stone and dares anyone to draw it. Again no one succeeds, but Arthur. And so he became High King of Britain at a very young age.

Excalibur is the sword Arthur receives from the Lady of the Lake. She sometimes is a mythical figure - an ancient Welsh goddess of water, and sometimes she's referred to as a highpriestess of Avalon. In both cases she a Lady with great power.
Her giving the sword of magic (presumebly made by an elven smith) is her acceptance as Arthur as protector of Britain. The sword and scabbard are enchanted: the scabbard protects the owner from being mortily wounded and the sword is supposed to be unbreakable.

Names for Excalibur
The emythology of the name is some what confusing for it is also said that the Welsh name for Excalibur was Caladvwlch, equating linguistically with Irish Caladbolg, the name of a sword borne by heroes in Irish legend, derived from CALAD (hard) and BOLG (lightning). It goes with a story in which the sword is struck by lighting just as the (elven) smith takes it out of the water after its final heating.
Caladbolg is also known as the sword of the Welsh legend Cu Chullain (see 'Morrigan' and 'Celtic literature' in the celtic section). Caliburn is also supposed to be the old Welsh name for the sword, which was later transformed to 'Excalibur' by French poets like Chretien de Troyes. It is supposed to mean 'Cuts steal'.
Two different names and different meanings to one and the same sword, or is it?


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